You don't need expensive camera gear to take beautiful car photography; some simple iPhone accessories will get you started.
Hopefully you look at Motor1 and wonder how we get such good photography of the cars we drive. It’s true, most of us have DSLR cameras with multiple lenses, tripods, and many years of experience using them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get close to – or even match – the quality of what we professionals do with equipment that’s much less expensive and easier to use.
As they say, “the best camera is the one you have with you.” And chances are, that iPhone – with its built-in camera – likely never leaves your side. All you need are some accessories to help you get the most out of your iPhone photography, so we picked out a few of our favorites.
Probably the biggest “problem” with the iPhone6 camera is its fixed focal length. Yes, it has zoom, but that’s digital zoom and looks terrible. Your best bet is to zoom using your feet. Your second best bet is to buy a set of lenses to physically change the camera’s optics.
There are a lot of camera lens accessories for the iPhone. And don’t get us wrong: a lot of them are really, really good. Only problem with many aftermarket lenses is that they’re not compatible with the original phone’s dimensions only. So this means that, if you want to add a protective screen or a personalized case, your pricey lens becomes useless. Luckily, there’s Squidcam to the rescue.
One of the more popular lenses seen at a variety of car shows, the $70 Squidcam system, is incredibly cool. The base of the system is the Lego-styled hard-plastic case. Those plastic studs allow you to snap on a variety of compatible lenses, like the four that come included in this set.
The included wide-angle lens lets you get up close and personal for those full-car beauty shots. Switch over to the included fisheye lens for a stunning ultra-wide shot capturing those sweet bucket seats and racing wheel you put in your car. Want to get a close-up detail of the pop-rivets on your new Pandem wide body kit? If that’s your thing, go for it – just use one of the included macro lenses to get up close and personal with those JDM wood screws you used to secure those overfenders to your car.
As for the lenses themselves, they’re crafted from machined aluminum and feature multi-coated glass to help ensure superb image clarity. Just snap ‘em on and off to get a whole host of different looks for your budding portfolio. This set even comes with two removable blocks for added customization options.
Full disclosure: your humble author was a self-proclaimed Lego maniac in the 1980s – going so far as to regularly write the president of Lego USA, and being even more stoked when I’d regularly get a response. So it’s with a heavy heart that we must reveal that the Squidcam system isn’t Lego compatible, meaning that Benny the Spaceman figure will need to find a new home.
But with Squidcam’s set of blocks, it’s still easy to build up the case and add some personal touches. With a wide variety of colors available, it’s easy for you to match the case with your car. Or if you’re trying to make friends with the local drift crew, color match your phone case to their car in the hopes that they’ll accept you as one of their own, even if you’re still driving your wife’s Camry. This $15 set includes 10 3x2 bricks and 10 2x2 bricks.
If a more sophisticated camera phone case is what you’re after, look no further than the Lite Camera Kit for iPhone6 from Ztylus. Yeah, at $100 it carries a premium price, but it’s got the premium features serious photographers crave.
It all starts with the matte polycarbonate case. As with just about every other smartphone case, the Ztylus unit provides multi-directional shock protection, and takes things a step further with a microfiber-covered inner surface. That circle you see on the back is the foundation for the Ztylus accessory mounting system, which gives you a whole lotta options.
The included metal canister holds the 4-in-1 lens system. There’s no screwing or unscrewing of components needed to change lenses – just a flick of the wrist gets you your lens of choice. The usual assortment of lenses are here, including wide-angle, fisheye and macro. Best of all, the Ztylus Lite Camera Kit also includes a lens with an integrated circular polarized filter. What this means for you is that, when snapping those car photos, you can rotate the filter to eliminate the harsh glare you’ll find on the windows and paint. So, you know, you can see the car instead of a burned-out reflection of the sky.
And when you’re not shooting photos, the “revolver” lens system detaches, allowing you to take advantage of other accessories – like the included kickstand. And if you want to push your photography even further, Ztylus offers a host of add-ons to turn your iPhone 6 into a portable, professional studio.
By now you’re likely filling your Instagram feed with car photos and checking every five minutes to see how many likes they, so chances are your phone will run out of battery. And fast. In our experience, smartphones die quickly when being use primarily for photography.
To fight this, we always make sure to bring a spare phone charger or two to a car event or photo shoot. And Juno Power’s $35 Hue Kard is one of our favorites. At only 8mm thick, the Hue Kard is one of the thinnest battery products in the world.
Underneath that beautiful brushed aluminum casing are Samsung lithium ion cells, and they are rated to hold a charge of 3300mAh. Just plug your smartphone cable into the Hue Kard’s 5V USB slot and you’re ready to go.